Friday March 9 2018
Only one way for Inter

Inter have been found wanting mentally and technically since the end of last year, but Richard Hall believes a move back to basics is just what’s needed against Napoli.

Inter welcome Napoli to San Siro on Sunday, well aware that they are a wounded animal with much to lose. The Partenopei lost to Roma last time out, in a match that knocked their Scudetto ambitions. Maurizio Sarri’s men will be looking to make up for this slip, against a Nerazzurri team who have been struggling to find form in 2018. Luciano Spalletti now has some tactical decisions to make as he must decide whether to be cautious against this injured Napoli or go in for the kill.

Perhaps when the Inter Coach is thinking about his approach, he will quite possibly end up perplexed. His team played well before December and were also in contention for the Serie A title, until defeats against Udinese and Sassuolo kicked off their winter malaise. Despite only one more loss to Genoa, Spalletti’s side picked up a succession of draws and more importantly offered little in the way of performance. The 2-0 win against Benevento last time out was Inter’s 2018 in a microcosm - they won in the poorest way possible.

The Nerazzurri have quality, that is for sure, but they have not developed a style, or an approach, nor do they possess a change of pace or a plan B on the field.  There have been games when they have looked electric in attack, take the game against Chievo for instance. Here, they were blistering on the flanks, with Ivan Perisic offering to share the responsibility for the goals by getting a hat-trick. This was ‘peak Inter’, a team that were solid at the back and also deadly up front, creating chances and adopting a very direct style.

This powerful approach resembled Giovanni Trapattoni’s Nerazzurri in the late 1980s, but there was a problem. This was the only game in which they managed to do this for 90 minutes. They have produced snippets of this throughout the campaign, but there haven’t been enough of them.

Inter have also performed with indomitable courage when facing the big teams. In Serie A, they have not been beaten by Juventus, Roma, Milan, Fiorentina or Napoli and, in certain games (especially against The Old Lady and the Partenopei), have kept clean sheets, looking very organised at the back. It is true that these have been somewhat backs-to-the-walls performances, but the argument is that, if they had done and continued to do this against the top sides, plus beat the lesser teams, they may have mounted a Scudetto challenge.

Not beating the lesser teams has been the main issue. The defeats to Udinese and Sassuolo at the back-end of 2017 were disappointing, but in 2018, after good results against Roma and Fiorentina, they had a chance to rectify their season.  SPAL, Crotone, Genoa, Bologna and Benevento offered the Beneamata points to take, yet they’ve only beat two of those outfits and lost to the Grifone. This timidness in front of goals is a new development, and the lack of collective responsibility in the team for getting amongst the goals also doesn’t help. Too much is left on Mauro Icardi’s shoulders.

Spalletti will perplexed for this very reason. It is not how he should approach Napoli that is the issue. He certainly will not be confident that his team are capable mentally or technically to go and attack Napoli as they did when playing Chievo. The issue here is that if they do not, the Neapolitans will quickly grow into the game, and their ability will test Inter’s resolve.

Should the Tuscan, in turn, consider a more defensive approach like he has when facing the big teams? This is also a risk as his troops are not looking as rigid as they were at the start of the campaign, and it is unlikely that they can contain a full-on assault by Napoli for 90 minutes. It may be his best option if he can hope to use the likes of Rafinha and Yann Karamoh to hit them on the break, but it will lead to some tense moments.

Maybe it’s this lack of tactical options that has brought about Inter’s biggest criticism so far this campaign. He has a group of players who are talented and have technical ability but lack mentality of and an understanding of any specific style or ability to transition in game. This has led to many below-par performances, like the ones at Benevento or Bologna for example, when the game has been won thanks to the will of an individual rather than the will of the collective. Spalletti is perhaps trying to understand why he doesn’t have options against Napoli, rather than which to use to beat them.

Have your say...
ohh..can you guys grow up a little?

enough with the insults between inter and juve. this article isn't for that.

and marco, when ravanelli said richard is an inter fan, he speak the truth. you should go find and listen to inter related podcasts to know better.

this article is very fair and richard does have lots of valid points here. i think everyone must be perplexed by now on how to improve this squad. go and just read spalletti interviews made after the napoli game. you'll understand.
on the 12th March, 2018 at 6:57pm
By the way....

Wasn't Pochettino himself that defended diving and practically said that diving is fine and part of the game?

Yeah, let's listen to this guy.
on the 11th March, 2018 at 6:01am
@ Anonymous 9:11am

Nice try, but it was an inter fan who dragged Juve into this with the "loser mentality" talk.

And despite that, fans comment on blogs of other teams all the time. Are we not allowed to do that now? It's called Football-Italia not Football-(insert club name).

As for Pochettino, well of course people like you will celebrate something like that.
And I assume you haven't seen the actual events of the match or else you wouldn't use what he said in an argument.
We all saw the decisions that went against Juve in that same match with our own eyes. I'd believe my eyes over some bitter talk after a loss.
on the 11th March, 2018 at 5:39am
@ The post about "malaise" below.

You do realise this is the Internet? Kinda hard to judge Juventus fans mentality off a comments section..

Keep on fighting the Internet bro ;)
on the 10th March, 2018 at 11:23am
Just goes to show once more Juventus fans parochial mentality. A fair enough story about Inter and it is covered with Juve fans posts. And for those who say only Inter/Napoli/Fiorentina fans take a certain view on Juventus and their approach to football - look at what Pochetino had to say. This is the view the world over and is the reason for Italian football's malaise,
on the 10th March, 2018 at 10:11am
"Nobody in Torino cares about another Scudetto or Coppa Italia"

Yes, we do.

It's funny though that you speak of loser mentality, yet you're content with fighting for European places.
And don't give me that "the team is improving" bs. Your team crumbled when they were on top just like they did in 2016.

Your team is loser and victim mentality personified. You can't even accept valid criticism from your own fans. Ostriches.
on the 10th March, 2018 at 9:39am
@ Marco



You try to make scudetto and coppa as unimportant trophies (because your loser team can't achieve it) in order to make Juve are also the loser side. Man, you're one pathetic loser!
on the 10th March, 2018 at 7:07am
REPEAT: Low expectations, new coach, 0 depth, new foreign un-tested players.
Surprising strong start, media asks if legit contenders???
True form/talent emerges and IM right where they should be. (EUROPA)
Media is up in arms - players unworthy of the beautiful colours.
IM will not get 4th, may not even get 6th, squad is STILL not capable of competing admirably in 1-2 comps. Even BBilan has a recent cup. Imagine INTER Champs league vs MADRID OR CITY. TERRIFYING!
on the 10th March, 2018 at 4:45am
HAHAHAHA Just love to see the ZEBRAS all excited reading another article about INTER.

To all the Zebras never forget: INTER HAS 110 YEARS AND NEVER ON SERIE B

I won't waste my time talking about another article with the same rhetoric blablabla

See you in CL next year!

on the 10th March, 2018 at 3:54am
Yes marco and if juve did win the cl what do you think would have changed in the world . Nothing. It is one trophy that only one team wins each yr . It has not been to turin for some time, but dont think that all juventus fans care about it as much as u believe. I for one am quite happy to watch our trophy cabinet continue to grow, while the others win nothing. Again, juve is the 5th best team in the world. Do they want the cl,yes,everyone does duuuuhhh. do they need the cl. No .
on the 10th March, 2018 at 2:03am
Nobody in Torino cares about another Scudetto or Coppa Italia - they want CL silverware, period. Reaching the finals and losing is what is killing Juventino's. Back to Inter, could care less if writer is a tifoso, the fact is Spalletti has played top teams tough and kept an inter side with really only a year of experience together in the top 4 all year. FI paints a dire picture but we're a win away this weekend from being heralded again.
on the 10th March, 2018 at 1:18am
@ marco

The writer is an inter fan.

Not everyone is against inter.

Typical victim mentality.
on the 9th March, 2018 at 10:42pm
There will be tough game coming in Milan, as Napoli looks a little bit exhausted. Is there a time for Ghoulam back in the full squad at least for a bench?
on the 9th March, 2018 at 8:25pm
@MArco nobody ever said that reaching a cl final is success but winning the serie a is and coppa and being ranked the 5th most successful team in the world is as well. Peace out
on the 9th March, 2018 at 7:40pm
As an Inter fan I’ve got to say all the articles about Inter have been about right, even during the good run in 2017 it seemed too good to be true. Looking at our league position & points I’d say it’s where I expected us to be at the beginning, the situation just looks worse because of the run of results.
on the 9th March, 2018 at 7:18pm
@Bonucci, judging by the response I am assuming you're a Juventino in which case I have to remind you & your Drughi fan base that just reaching a CL final, is not a success. That's a losers mentality. Inter are a historic club, that you're right about, but finishing top 4 has always been the marker this year and I would say they have remained in and around that spot all year. Have they had a bad 1-2 months? Yes. However a win this weekend & I'd say they are very strong fav to finish top 4.
on the 9th March, 2018 at 7:16pm
Inter's problem is one thing and that is mental weakness.When they peaked out vs chievo in that 5-0 win,they were in 1st place and I think being in 1st place hurt them cos these players do not have the mental toughness to think they deserved 1st place and I think the fact that they were in 1st place spooked them out and then they collapsed.There are no leaders on this team. The club captain spends more time on social media and looking for a new contract than leading
on the 9th March, 2018 at 6:55pm
This article is a true reflection of Inter’s season. Since the 0-0 credible draw with Juve, they have lost the plot.
on the 9th March, 2018 at 6:48pm
@Marco Inter deserve to be critcised. They're a big historic club with high standards and they've been falling well below them for years now. They've just endured an alarming collapse after such a strong start to the season. And Spaletti seems lost.

If they were winning titles and reaching champs finals like Juve you can bet your bottom dollar they'd get more positive articles.

Besides, this article is actually very fair and points out the positives and the areas that need improving.
on the 9th March, 2018 at 5:08pm
My god the hate for Inter on Football-Italia is strong. When they finish top 4 I cannot wait to see the garbage piece Susy or Richard through up here trying to dig themselves out of the hole they dug all year. Forza Inter sempre.
on the 9th March, 2018 at 4:50pm

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